I was 28 years old when I realized that Mormonism was false. I spent a few years searching for the “true church” amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another. Finally, I gave up searching for the truth. But I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had simply left us humans to ourselves.
Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining whether or not something was true—trusting in my feelings. One example of this is found in the Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 5:
“Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (pp 22-23)
True to the Faith explains how feelings from the Spirit should be used to determine if something is true:
“Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 [-9: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;] therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…]” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.” (True to the Faith, page 144; D&C 9:8-9)
I spent three decades searching for truth using this LDS formula. Instead of finding the one and only “true God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what truth was. There are millions of people from various different faiths who have trusted that their strong feelings were God’s answer to their prayers. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was truth.
There are many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. They believed this because they listened to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their feelings would never lie to them that they committed suicide doing what “felt right“.
In all my searching I realized that humans are just really messed up. There have been many horrible aspects which define “religion”. But none of these have anything to do with God—each one is simply man claiming to act on God’s behalf. I finally came to the conclusion that a person can’t determine what is true by trusting in their feelings. Feelings often lie to you and tell you what you want to hear. Many people from different religions feel that what they believe is truth, and yet there can only be one truth.
It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are simply man-made attempts to define God. For years I had believed that all those horrible “religions” actually defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. This one true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him.
There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth to show me just how much He loves me. The Son of God lowered Himself and became a human because He unconditionally loves us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us.
I love the fact that Jesus told us how to determine truth! He testified, over and over again to search the scriptures!! That is where we can find God’s truth! Many times He chastised people who did not turn to scriptures for answers to their questions. After He was crucified He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He hid from them who He was and listened to them as they were trying to figure out why Jesus had been crucified. The reason they didn’t know is because they hadn’t turned to scripture to find the answers. Instead, they were studying it out in their minds. But Jesus revealed truth to them by taking them to scripture! Notice, He didn’t tell them to pray so that the Holy Ghost could reveal to them what was happening. Instead, Jesus pointed them to scripture as the place they could find the truth. (Prayer is how we speak to God–God speaks to us through His scripture (Matthew 22:29-32):
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).
Even though they claimed later that their “bosoms” burned when Jesus spoke to them, their feelings were not what they used to determine whether Jesus spoke truth. They knew what was true because Jesus took them to the source of truth–God’s Holy scripture. If we want to know what is and isn’t true, we are to test everything with what the Holy Ghost has already revealed to us in scripture.
At times I can barely fathom God’s love for me. But I trust that He does because of all the promises He has left for me in scripture. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Him often run and hide from Him.
I love these words about our God who loves us unconditionally–in spite of our sinfulness:
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)
I pray that you will come to know of your Savior’s love for you. His love is so great that He gave His life–just so you could spend eternity with Him. Turn to Him and you will find the deepest love of your life. His greatest longing is to lavish His love on you. With the Apostle Paul, I pray this prayer for you:
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.“